Draft Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 2002

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Mr. Wills: I can deal with both hon. Gentlemen's points together. I thank them for their kind words of welcome.

The position is easier to understand than it may seem. We spent a great deal of time considering how best to define the offence. The order is not designed to catch a knife that is not designed to be an everyday object. Penknives and other multifunctional tools are not designed to be other objects. They are what they seem to be, and as such they would not be caught by the order. Penknives are specifically excluded from the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which makes it an offence to possess in public any article that has a blade or is sharply pointed.

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The hon. Member for Beaconsfield mentioned antiques, which are defined as objects that are more than 100 years old. They are specifically catered for in the existing offensive weapons order, which excludes antique weapons that might fall into any of the categories listed in the order. I hope that that definition will reassure him.

The hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Burnett) mentioned imports. The order will give Customs and Excise the opportunity to seize objects that fall within the definition and to take them away. Manufacturers in this country are, therefore, not being discriminated against compared with manufacturers overseas. We want to catch all such offensive weapons. They are dangerous and pose a threat to public safety,

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and we want to tackle them, whether they are manufactured in the United Kingdom or abroad.

The hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon asked how items confiscated in airports can be returned, which falls outside my remit. That is beyond the scope of the order, but I am happy to make inquiries and write to him. I hope that I have dealt with hon. Members' concerns and that the Committee will support the order.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 2002.

Committee rose at one minute past Five o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Benton, Mr. Joe (Chairman)
Barker, Mr.
Burnett, Mr.
Coleman, Mr.
Colman, Mr.
Gillan, Mrs.
Grayling, Chris
Grieve, Mr.
Jones, Lynne
Lamb, Norman
Pound, Mr.
Prentice, Ms Bridget
Ryan, Joan
Wills, Mr.
Wright, Mr. Anthony D.

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Prepared 17 June 2002